Former Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo left the State House two years ago, yet remains one of the state’s top-funded politicians, thanks to a war chest a half-million dollars strong.
The Winthrop Democrat who ruled the House for 11 of his 30 years of service traded in his gavel in December 2020. But by the looks of his still-active campaign finance account, he could be ready to launch a reelection bid.
With $545,000 in cash on hand as of Friday, DeLeo has more in his campaign coffers than all but four of the 200 lawmakers currently serving in the state Legislature, according to state Office of Campaign Finance data.
State lawmakers with the most cash on hand:
1. House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz: $913,000
2. Sen.Mark Montigny: $805,000
3. Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues: $587,000
4. Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano: $547,000
Senate President Karen Spilka trails in a distant ninth place when it comes to campaign cash, with a little over $310,000.
A list ranking the top 20 lawmakers with the most cash available includes three other former lawmakers with six-figure campaign finance accounts: former Reps. Brian S. Dempsey, Paul Haley and Thomas Petrolati.
Candidates aren’t required to close campaign accounts when they leave office and pundits say keeping them active can set politicians up for a successful future bid or allow them to keep a grip — albeit a feeble one — on lawmaking from afar.
Democratic strategist Doug Rubin said the “most obvious reason” candidates would maintain their campaign accounts after leaving office is because they’re looking to run again. Though Rubin said it’s “unlikely” the 72-year-old DeLeo, now a University Fellow for Public Life at Northeastern University and whom we unsuccessfully tried to reach, is stockpiling cash for another State House bid. Rather, Rubin said, the accounts can be a way to wield some semblance of influence from afar.
“These accounts can be used as a way to keep them in the game, so to speak,” Rubin said of former politicians. “This is a way to stay relevant and stay engaged.”
Since leaving office, DeLeo’s campaign has shed nearly $130,000. A review of the accounting shows most of the money has been spent on donations. He’s at times given amounts of $10,000 to $15,000 to pro-environment and LGBTQ political interest groups. Smaller donations — in the $100 to $200 range — are frequently doled out to prominent state Democrats including Michlewitz, President Pro-Tempore Kate Hogan and others in powerful leadership positions.
There’s a new majority leader in the House
Speaker of the House Ronald Mariano tapped longtime Brighton Rep. Mike Moran to serve as the new majority leader, filling the position that has sat empty for over a year since Rep. Claire Cronin resigned to become U.S. ambassador to Ireland. Alice Peisch of Wellesley and Frank Moran of Lawrence also earned big promotions.
Cronin was the first-ever woman to serve as the No. 2 Democrat. Mariano at the time vowed to diversify the House’s largely white leadership ranks. Thursday’s appointments for the roles that come with hefty stipends included three women and one Latino lawmaker.
Convention Center Authority accused of taking Boston land under ‘false pretenses’
Boston city councilors are pushing back on a Convention Center Authority plan to lease out a swathe of waterfront property in South Boston for 99 years. Councilors claim the authority operated under “false pretenses” when it took land from private owners via eminent domain and said if land-taking uses aren’t honored, property owners should get their land back..
Lawmakers push for higher funeral cost reimbursements for workers killed on the job
The legislation filed by state Rep. Sally Kerans, D-Danvers, would require insurers to pay funeral expenses up to $25,000 or “10 times the average weekly wage, whichever is greater.” Currently, reimbursement taps out at around $10,000.
State chips away at backlog of untested rape kits
The state is ready to move forward with testing on nearly one-third of the 6,500 backlog in untested rape kits under review, according to a new report from the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Time running out? TikTok hires Boston lobbyist
TikTok’s Chinese parent company has hired Bay State Strategies Group to represent its interests in the state, a move that comes as a number of jurisdictions consider banning the social media app over concerns about data collection, the Globe’s Anissa Gardizy reports. The timing is not a shock, since a bill proposing to ban TikTok from being used on state-owned devices was filed recently and quickly gained more than a dozen co-sponsors.
It’s official: Walsh to take helm at NHLPA mid-March
The NHL Players’ Association officially announced Thursday it would hire U.S Labor Secretary Marty Walsh as its new executive director and that Walsh will be in his new role by mid-March. Walsh is the first member of President Biden’s cabinet to depart the administration and stands to get a healthy pay raise, with reports indicating his new gig will pay as much as $3 million a year.
Wu not tipping hand on fate of elected school committee
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu remains generally opposed to the idea of moving to an elected school committee, but isn’t saying whether she will veto the measure narrowly approved by the City Council on Wednesday, Sean Phillip Cotter of the Herald reports.
Brick-by-brick: How ‘Project Aquarius’ landed Lego HQ
Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal takes a dive into the trove of emails shared among economic development officials as they tried to convince the Lego Group to move its US headquarters here from Connecticut and finds a private broker made the first introductions and that state officials gave the quest a nickname: “Project Aquarius.”
No more on-street dining in Boston’s North End — at least for now
Outdoor dining is here to stay in Boston, but European-style street patios that popped up throughout Boston’s iconic North End in an effort to make dining safer amid the pandemic are no more, under Mayor Michelle Wu’s plan addressing COVID-era restaurant policies. Her administration is studying safety concerns raised by residents that could lead to a return street patios in future years.
Weekend politics and policy programs
Keller@Large, WBZ-TV, 8:30 a.m. Political analyst Jon Keller interviews Gus Bickford, outgoing chairman of the Mass. Democratic Party, discussing the party’s past and future, its inability to bring down Charlie Baker, and the potential renomination of Joe Biden for president
On The Record, WCVB-TV, Sunday 11 a.m. Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is the guest for WCVB’s On The Record this week. This will be a Special Edition of OTR for Black History Month. We will focus on key issues for the Black and Brown community. Ed Harding and Jessica Brown host this Special Edition. Boston Globe Columnist Adrian Walker and Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh join the Roundtable discussion.
Subscribe to MASSterList
Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.